One perk of your Microsoft certification is that it can open new doors along your career path. With so many options, you can choose to reinvent yourself—as Harry is doing.

Reinvent Yourself

One perk of your Microsoft certification is that it can open new doors along your career path. With so many options, you can choose to reinvent yourself—as Harry is doing.

Maybe it’s that Y2K thing, but it seems like a lot of people in the Microsoft certification community, including yours truly, are making major changes right now. I’m not talking about MCSEs selling everything and buying small farms outside Bozeman, Montana to escape impending doom. Rather, it seems to be about Microsoft Certified Professionals choosing to play other cards in order to take advantage of new opportunities.

One of the great things about holding a Microsoft certification title such as the MCSE is that it opens many doors—whether to becoming a network administrator, consulting engineer, Webmaster, technology manager, or trainer. Taking a fresh look at your personal gifts, your experience in the field, and your certifications might get you thinking about some opportunities you haven’t imagined.

In reality, your greatest limitations are probably imposed by yourself. Perhaps, à la Wayne and Garth on “Saturday Night Live,” you don’t feel worthy of bigger and better opportunities. That’s a confidence issue that may be preventing you from achieving greatness. Or perhaps you think you’re too far away from great opportunities. I’ll show you how neither of these issues need stop you.

The Time is Right

In the technology field, it’s essential to reinvent yourself every so often. Judging from reader feedback, many of you have done exactly that. For example, I’ve received lots of mail from NetWare CNEs who’ve crossed over to the MCSE community. Likewise, I’ve observed first-hand MCSEs who proceed to get their MCSD and join the developer community, most often with SQL Server. Finally, I’ve had wonderful chats with attendees at MCP Magazine’s TechMentor conferences who’ve used the Microsoft certification vehicle to change careers from drywallers, loggers, and salespeople to credible technical professionals. Perhaps you’ve got a similar story to spin.

The point is this: The MCSE and other Microsoft certifications are incredibly enabling. And in many cases, the only limitations are self-inflicted.

Getting Where You Want

In today’s world of DSL and cable modem, the geography issue needn’t limit you. In that respect, I’ve seen how people are using the Microsoft certification community to reinvent themselves. On the staff of writers and editors for MCP Magazine alone, I know individuals who’ve elected to practice their technology-related craft as part-time llama farmers in Eastern Washington, as gold diggers in Northern California, and even as a work-at-home cabin dweller in Southern California.

As an enabling vehicle, the Microsoft certification community offers you a wide array of career options. Perhaps you’re content to live in the big city and move up the IT corporate ladder, such as a colleague of mine in Chicago who works with 140,000 users(!). Perhaps you’ve got a bad case of wanderlust and want to live as a traveling technology contractor. Or maybe you’re yearning to have your own farm in the country. Don’t overlook the fact that, as a Microsoft Certified Professional, the world is literally your oyster. That thought has always helped me sleep well at night—knowing I could probably carve out a living in many a new location should that become necessary.

What About Me?

Part of what got me thinking about this topic is that change is in the air for me as well. I’m heading my career into cyberspace! First, starting with the January issue, my three-year tenure as your “Professionally Speaking” columnist comes to an end. In that time, I’ve heard from hundreds of readers offering feedback and insights on professional issues impacting MCSEs all over. I’ve watched the magazine grow to over 100,000 readers—and become a magnet for world-class technical professionals, both readers and writers—with new insights to share with you.

Instead, I’ll be writing a new monthly online column for the magazine, for those of you who want some basic and intermediate hands-on insights into Windows 2000 Server deployment. [Beginning in January, Harry’s Windows 2000 column will appear in the public area of each month when the current issue becomes available online.—Ed.] And I’m also changing jobs. I’ve made the decision to leave a wonderful employer, Clark Nuber (a regional accounting firm in the Seattle area). I’m now serving networking clients online using an array of management tools that allow me to practice my craft from anywhere at anytime. I’m also writing technology books nearly full-time for IDG Books Worldwide. And I’ve left the classroom at Seattle Pacific University to teach in its online AATP MCSE program.

What’s the point in sharing this? Circling back to the underlying reinvention theme of the column, I’m taking advantage of the doors that my Microsoft certifications have opened for me to live life on my terms, not my boss’. In doing so, I hope I’m opening up unimagined opportunities. I can now purchase that house on Bainbridge Island (just across from Seattle) without having to make the daily, arduous commute into the city each day. And I can now pursue a better lifestyle balance. That doesn’t involve llamas for me, but rather joining the Masters cross-country ski racing circuit this winter. I can cast my spells just as easily from Crested Butte, Colorado, as from the big city any day of the week.

May the value of your Microsoft certifications afford you the same opportunities. See you online!

About the Author

Bainbridge Island, Washington author Harry Brelsford is the CEO of, a Small Business Server consulting and networking monitoring firm. He publishes the "Small Business Best Practices" newsletter ([email protected]), and is the author of several IT books, including MCSE Consulting Bible (Hungry Minds) and Small Business Server 2000 Best Practices (Hara Publishing).

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular